For over 30 years, Lawrence Mason lived in Plainfield until April 17, 2017 when he was evicted from his home. He now lives in Elizabeth in an apartment that he rents with the assistance of a housing voucher. He has a daughter who is 9 and a son who is 13.
His 2017 eviction surprised Lawrence. He shared his home with several of his siblings, whose names were also on the deed on the house. While Lawrence had paid his share of the mortgage, his siblings had failed to do so.
For the next month, Lawrence and his two children and wife stayed in a hotel in Elizabeth located far away from the children’s school. Lawrence says, “It was hard to explain it to my kids why we don’t have a house anymore, a big house with a front and backyard where they can play outside and enjoy themselves. That was the hardest part.”
In addition to his family’s housing crisis, Lawrence’s daughter was the victim of an assault at her school and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She began to face vision and memory problems. Her medical crisis only increased the family’s urgency to access housing.
For four months they lived in the Family Promise Shelter program. As a graduate guest they continue to work with Family Promise.
On July 10, 2017, Lawrence received a voucher which he uses to afford an apartment in Elizabeth. Lawrence describes his family’s apartment as “Somewhere where we can really live, where we can enjoy ourselves, go to the park and spend time as a family when we can.”
Thankfully, Lawrence discovered the Traumatic Brain Injury Fund, a New Jersey state service that helps residents afford bills concerning brain injuries. Now, Lawrence’s daughter is thriving and even received a scholarship to attend a private school. This educational opportunity for her never would have been possible without stable housing and proper medical care.
Lawrence stays in touch with the Family Promise Union County Program. After receiving temporary housing assistance from the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, his family received assistance from Family Promise for 4 months. Family Promise worked in conjunction with the Coalition to help Lawrence and his family move into housing.
Lawrence wants to tell his elected officials that there should be “More vouchers to help the families that are most in need.”
Would you be interested in telling your story of the impact of homelessness on your life to your elected officials at the Congressional Reception on July 25? Please contact Kate Kelly at Monarch Housing.
On July 25th, a Congressional Reception will be held at the Dirksen Senate Auditorium in Washington D.C. This event will allow New Jersey Residents who are working poor, below the poverty line and or impacted by homelessness to urge their elected officials in Washington to make No Cuts to Housing and remind them that Opportunity Starts at Home.